A Bit of Yarn Evolution History

A Bit of Yarn Evolution History

One of the many advantages of running workshops in The Needlemakers is that I’m surrounded by vintage and antique specialists. Richard from Revive All was going through this Punch magazine and thought of me when he came across this Shell Chemicals ad – the image of the child knitting with intense concentration on her face is undeniably cute, and reminds me of the six small faces I teach every Wednesday (although to be honest there’s more chat than concentration going on!) But it’s the ad text that caught my attention – it’s a rather nice description of the child learning to knit, but it also tells us something about the evolution of yarn technology of the day.

It reads: “Sooner or later, Susie’s knitting has a habit of acquiring length without breadth, whatever the pattern. Just what it’s going to be at any given moment depends on the leaping imagination of its young creator. Knitted up or unravelled, that wool has been around for a long time. It has suffered in the cause of many a new project, but never has it suffered from moth. Because, like so much that is made of wool these days it is mothproofed with ‘Dielmoth.” (why didn’t they go the whole hog and just call it Diemoth?)  It goes on to invite those in the wool trade to contact Shell for more information.

It’s an interesting piece of marketing for Shell – for one, it stands out in the rather masculine setting of Punch, but it also struck me that knitting was still such a ubiquitous hobby that they’d consider place it smack in the centre of a campaign, happy to associate their advancing technology with yarn as one of its beneficial bi-products.

Although many of us also ‘suffer from moth’, I’m sure wool consumers would prefer to associate their wool with natural products such as happy sheep frolicking on the Shetland hillside rather than the chemical industry!

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